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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"


long the result was evident in the general loss of freedom and
spontaneity in the writing of Latin.

Another phase of the same degenerate tendency was the ex-
travagant estimate of Cicero's style as the only correct model
for composition. Following Quintilian, Vittorino and Guarino
and grammarians like Perotti regarded Cicero's letters and
rhetorical writings as examples of perfect Latinity. " A Cicerone
nunquam discedendum," was Vittorino's maxim for young
scholars. But none of the members of this school went the
length of making Cicero the exclusive model and ignoring the
study of content in favour of mere form. It was not till the
end of the Fifteenth Century that there arose a stricter sect of
Ciceronians who condemned entirely the use of any words or
idioms not to be found in Cicero, and made style the only con-
sideration in scholarship. From this time forward, a fierce
controversy, continually renewed by fresh combatants, raged
between the two parties. On the one side were those like Politian
who refused to be mere " apes of Cicero." " Some one will say:
'You do not express Cicero.' I answer: cI am not Cicero. What
I really express is myself/ "* On the other side were those like
Bembo who carried their adherence to Cicero so far as to use pagan
expressions in speaking of Christian themes. In his writings,
the municipal councillors are " patres conscripti," the Virgin
Mary " dea ipsa," the nuns " virgines vestales," and so on.
With the publication of the Ciceronianus of Erasmus in 1528,
condemning such irrational devotion to Cicero and approving
the practice of the earlier Ciceronians, the controversy passed
beyond the confines of Italy and ended finally in the triumph
of the saner view. But that there should have been such a con-
troversy at all is significant of the change that had come over
renaissance scholarship. It revealed the inherent weakness of
the whole movement, and foreshadowed the time when the love 
of the ancient literatures which marked the escape of men's minds
from the constraints of medievalism would pass away and leave
the schools that had been created under its influence to the
joyless study of literary rules and forms.

* Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, ii, 85.